Now then, this album was my first introduction to Oldham four-piece The Recreation. So I had no idea what to expect from them. First impressions, before even listening, the lovely vintage artwork. Always helps when an album has inviting artwork, but I suppose I’m not meant to be reviewing the artwork…
There’s something rather distinct about this album, the choice of guitar tones throughout the album to the production techniques used. It’s hard not to feel nostalgic and evocative. It’s refreshing to hear an independent band make music that they actually want to make, rather than just generic crowd-pleasers, and I think it pays off. It makes you want to cry, makes you feel hopeful, makes you feel happy – and everything in between. Describing the album as background music would be to call Everest a big hill.
To say I’ve fallen in love with Owen Baldwin’s vocals would be quite the understatement. Raspy, resonant, passionate and almost unconventional. Also quite inviting in away, he just sounds nice to listen to. There’s a uniqueness to them, which makes The Rec’s sound distinctly them. A fingerprint which sets them aside from the standard indie band.
A few tracks stood out to me. Firstly, the first track. Good start! It’s a short, sweet opener which sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s the sort of track I’d expect to hear playing in a 70s hotel lounge, where everyone wears flares and drinks whiskey. Which inarguably, is cool.
Another one of the standouts to me is All’s Like I Want It To Be. It sticks to that definitive Recreation sound but contains individualistic elements that help set it apart from the rest of the album, namely the brass. The boys have created a real soundscape in this track, something that reminded me vaguely of King Crimson which is kinda cool. It’s quite an evocative track, and made me feel sorta on edge listening to it (in a good way I should add). The loose shifts in tempo and dynamics create a really dramatic track, which I’d say is a testament to their song writing talent.
I feel like I can’t review this album without a dedicated write-up on the mammoth that is Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda. This was the first song I’d heard from The Rec, and I won’t lie, but when I was sent this and saw it was 6 whole minutes and 12 whole seconds long I deeply sighed… but how wrong I was. There’s a real storyteller’s vibe to this song, and by the end it really feels like you’ve been taken on an emotional journey. I always love when you can actually hear the raw emotion a band has given to a song. It really does feel like there are blood, sweat and tears embodied into the tune. The passionate, compelling vocal; intentful drumming; colourful lead guitar; expressive bass line; raised a few hairs on my spine, and by the end of the song I was left with a tear in my eye and actually wanting more – despite it’s 6 minute duration!
To be honest, I’d really recommend sitting down for 45 minutes, grabbing a box of tissues, and blaring it out – as I’m sure my words won’t have done the album justice. As long as your prepared for the rollercoaster the lads take you on…
Written by Josh Brooke